Red Tavern's pelmeni [San Francisco]
I just need to say, Red Tavern's pelmeni, Pork Schnitzel, and grilled tongue are amazing. It's a funky menu (lobster mac n' cheese is Russian?) and I didn't like their take on Stroganoff, but the dumplings!!!
2224 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121
A friend and I tried this place a few weeks ago, and it was one of the weirder restaurant experiences I've had. Item after item I ordered was unavailable, though the waiter apparently found it difficult to keep disappointing me, so he at first just sort of stood there looking sad and occasionally shaking his head. Eventually, he moved to the back of the room, where I followed him to try to order something to eat.
It started when I opened the menu and couldn't find the mushroom-barley soup I'd seen on the online menu and had been looking forward to; it was no longer offered. Then, I asked if (it was pretty dark) I was reading "beet" or "beef" on the description of the Russian Salad; when he said "beef," I asked if it could be left off. That's when the head-shaking began. I assumed he meant it couldn't be removed; about 15 minutes later I finally learned the whole thing was unavailable.
I asked if I could order the smoked sturgeon alone, without the smoked salmon. Same routine. Finally, once again, the truth came out--they were out of that too. I think the opposite of batting three for three is striking out. Any normal person would have left at that point, but I was with a friend I felt would be uncomfortable if I suggested that.
How about the cabbage and dill salad? Yes! What would have been a delightful, crunchy, fresh-tasting first course to a cilantro-lover was not something I could eat. At first I thought I could pick out the offending herb, but I gave that up after a bit, worrying about my poor companion, who had yet to be served her cabbage rolls.
I was able to successfully order the potato pierogi and a side of terrific kasha, ending up with two delightful dishes but a bad taste in my mouth from the mutually embarrassing experience.
The salad was removed from the bill and there was no charge for the kasha, though I had asked him to be sure to charge me.
I did not hesitate to tell the waiter how disappointed I was and how unprofessional I found all those omissions. He made no effort to argue with me. His job must be very stressful if that's the usual happenstance.
I have no clue if it's simply not a serious restaurant or gets too little business or what. Clearly, from the post above and my experience (and my friend's enjoyment of her dish), there's talent in the kitchen.